By Frances Maguire Paist
To those for whom mobility is
limited, the ability to move around freely is a gift whose benefit
can only be truly understood once it has been taken away. Imagine
having to rely upon someone else for everything that you do – each
trip to the grocery store, each run by the dry cleaners, each foray
to the library or each errand to the pharmacy, doctor’s office or
your child’s school. And then imagine how marvelous it would be if
this opportunity, sometimes taken away so unexpectedly, could be
returned to you through the use of adaptive equipment added to your
car, van or truck.
Adaptive equipment is defined as
a wide range of appliances, materials and supplies that help those
with disabilities accomplish more activities of daily living and
become more functionally independent. Adaptive equipment added to
cars and vans help drivers and passengers get in and out of their
vehicles, use driving controls and store other mobility equipment.
Following is a partial list of
adaptive equipment often used in vehicles to help those with
disabilities soar to new levels:
• A Power Door Opener is a device that opens and closes a vehicle
door electronically via a remote switch.
• An Under the Vehicle Lift is a wheelchair lift stored under the
frame of the van. An Automatic Lift, not located under the vehicle,
permits the raising, lowering, stowing and deploying of the lift to
be handled remotely by a power source. A Semi-Automatic Lift allows
the raising and lowering of the platform to be handled
electronically, but the storage and deployment of the platform to
and from a horizontal position is handled manually.
• A Raised Fiberglass Roof is a separately installed after the
vehicle’s original roof has been removed. This permits increased
head room in the van.
• A Raised Door Opening permits additional door entry height for
vehicle entry and exit. The manufacturer’s original doors are
modified to add the extra height needed.
• A Center Lowered Floor, also called a Cargo Lowered Floor, means
that the floor in the rear passenger area of the vehicle has been
lowered. The manufacturer’s original floor is removed and lowered
from the rear of the driver/passenger seats to the front of the rear
• Transfer Bars or Handles assist an individual in movement or
• Five steering devices (Knob, Tri-Pin, “U” or “V”, Cuff and
Amputee) help people with specialized needs hold onto the steering
• Low and Zero Effort Steering is a steering system modification in
which the effort of steering the vehicle is reduced.
• Foot Steering permits the steering of the vehicle to be operated
by the driver’s foot.
• Horizontal Steering is the installation of a replacement steering
column that permits the steering wheel to be moved to a horizontal